Macbeth Is a Play About Loss Essay

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‘Macbeth is a play about loss.’ – Discuss

In the tragedy Macbeth, William Shakespeare explores the theme of loss through protagonist Macbeth. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is a hero of noble stature whose fortunes are reversed as a result of weakness. He becomes overwhelmed by his tragic flaw of vaulting ambition and his own actions lead to his very nemesis. Macbeth loses his conscience after murdering King Duncan, sold his soul to the devil and loses his life to his acts of evil that doomed him. By the end of the play, Macbeth loses all his humanity and transforms into a ‘ruthless’, bloody ‘butcher’ who has changed drastically from the “noble” and “valiant” warrior he once was because he loses his human characteristics of conscience and remorse.

Macbeth loses his conscience after murdering King Duncan. Initially, Macbeth is consumed by fear as he is haunted by the guilt after killing Duncan. Knowing that it is morally wrong, Macbeth has committed a foul crime which he cannot be forgiven for – “To know my deed, ‘twere best not know myself’. Macbeth loses his integrity and wish he had not murdered Duncan because such “bloody instructions, which, being taught (will only) return to plague the inventor”. He is disturbed by the terrible images of violence in his mind, and he is driven to paranoid obsession because “Macbeth doth murder sleep.” In these lines, Sleep is personified and it is characterized by its repairative qualities. However, because of the grave sins he has committed, Macbeth can no longer sleep as his wrongful deeds have “killed” it. Macbeth loses his sanity when he is appalled at seeing blood on his hands after murdering King Duncan, both literally and metaphorically, and says that “all the ocean’s water combined cannot wash away the blood”. Macbeth gradually becomes physically and spiritually tormented by his guilt and conscience till he cannot take it anymore. Although he was able to acquire the throne - “What he hath lost, noble...
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